About Chinese Visa and Tibet Travel Permit
The type of Chinese visa will differ depending on the two different routes to enter Tibet. One route is from Nepal (from Kathmandu city) and the other route is from Mainland China (from major cities in China).
For Travelers Entering Tibet from Nepal (Kathmandu)
All foreigners going to Tibet from Nepal should apply for their Chinese visa at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. If you already have a Chinese visa in your passport, which you obtained from the Chinese Embassy/Consulate in your home country, it cannot be used to enter Tibet from Nepal. So, it becomes useless and the cost you paid for it will not be refunded.
The Chinese visa that you get from the Chinese embassy in Nepal is also known as group visa and paper visa. Because, if you are traveling in a group, for example, you are going to Tibet together as husband and wife, they issue one visa. And the visa appears on a separate white paper with a stamp from the Chinese government with both of your names on it.
Please don’t be confused by the name. Although Nam is a group visa, it is also issued to single travelers. This means you don’t necessarily need to be in a group to travel from Nepal to Tibet.
Another thing, after you finish visiting Tibet, you can use the same group visa/paper visa to extend your trip to mainland China (Chinese cities) as per the validity mentioned in the visa. If you have such a plan, that means after Tibet you also plan to go to China, inform us (your travel agency) when you finalize your Tibet tour itinerary. Because a group visa, once issued, cannot be extended.
It usually takes 2 or 3 days to get a Chinese visa in Kathmandu. Note that the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu does not process visa applications on weekends, Chinese holidays or most Nepalese holidays.
Our staff (your travel agency staff) will go to the Chinese Embassy to collect your visa and he will bring it to your hotel in Kathmandu.
About Tibet Travel Permit
Tibet is an autonomous region of China. To travel to Tibet, it requires a Tibet permit in addition to a Chinese visa. The Chinese embassy will issue your Chinese visa only after submitting a copy of your travel permit. We do all the process for Tibet Travel Permit ourselves. For this, at least one month before your travel date, you must send us a scanned copy of your passport via email. Once we receive this we apply for your travel permit to the Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) in Lhasa. It takes at least 15 days for the Tibet Tourism Bureau to issue a travel permit. We keep it with us after they release it. After you land in Kathmandu, we apply your Chinese visa and present a copy of your travel permit to the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu with your original passport.
Note that tourists are not allowed to apply Tibet permit and Chinese visa directly. Also, they don’t need to go to the embassy for a visa. For processing both Tibet permit and visa, they must go through/hire a travel agency.
Some Other Important Notes:
- Photographs are also required for visa applications in Kathmandu. So when you give your original passport to our staff, also give your two passport size photographs and your home address details.
- For Chinese visa, your passport must have at least 6 months validity.
- The scanned copy of your passport sent to us one month ago and the passport you bring with you for travel should be identical to avoid the risk of not getting a visa.
For Travelers Entering Tibet from Mainland China
Tibet can be entered from major cities in China. However, the rules for going to Tibet from China are different from the rules for going to Tibet from Nepal. If you want to enter Tibet via mainland China, you need to apply for your Chinese visa from the Chinese embassy in your home country. Once you have your Chinese visa you should scan it and email it to us with clear and legible letters and a copy of your passport. With these documents, we will apply for your Tibet Travel Permit at the Tibet Travel Bureau (TTB) in Lhasa. Once your Tibet travel permit is issued, we will deliver it to your hotel where you are staying in mainland China. You will only be allowed to enter Tibet from mainland China by showing your Chinese visa and Tibet Travel Permit at the Chinese immigration at the airport.
When applying for your Chinese tourist visa, you must follow the difficult task of not mentioning the word Tibet and the names of Tibetan cities. In the application, you must mention that you have recently traveled to mainland China cities. List a few major cities in mainland China and you’ll be fine. Otherwise, you will have a big problem of not getting a Chinese visa.
The main reason not to mention it on the Chinese visa application is that Chinese embassies and consulates around the world will always ask for your Tibet travel permit if you list Tibet on your visa application. But you can’t get a Tibet travel permit from the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa without submitting your Chinese tourist visa… a classic Catch-22 situation. Note that only the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa issues Tibet Travel Permits. This rule sounds strange and confusing. But it is real and ongoing.
In addition, for most nationalities, they will need to submit proof of hotel bookings and flights to and from China when applying for a Chinese visa. Be sure to book hotels only for mainland cities and not for travel destinations in Tibet and book your flight from a major city in Mainland China/not to Lhasa in Tibet. If you do, you will almost certainly have problems and possibly be denied a Chinese visa either.